Just saw Lydia’s Funeral Video, Sam Chanse’s (debut?) one-woman show playing at the Dark Room Theater in San Francisco. I knew Sam from her prodigious efforts in keeping Kearny Street Workshop forging ahead through challenging staff changes with grace. I believe director Wilma Bonet is a respected colleague of a theater-friend of mine. But I had only seen Sam do stand-up, not acting, and I guess I assumed this first go-round might be rough around the edges. I was delightfully surprised.
The show started off with Sam bursting out into the small theater in character, delivering a monologue at full throttle. She kept up a remarkable pace, changing characters with precision, using the range of stage area and lights to great effect, never breaking character and always putting well-rehearsed skill into each scene. The set was bare, the costuming was economical and efficient. And it worked great. Most importantly, the writing (Sam wrote the play as well) was really good. Sometimes one-person shows can feel patchworked, or too much like a series of vignettes, but Sam was sure to include a narrative arc with a surprise at the end that brought everything together nicely. I expected the show to be like Sam in real life: funny and dark. Lydia’s Funeral Video was also moving and smart.
The show runs through next weekend (see manja.org for tickets). Enjoy good karma and a good time if you support this young artist who has done so much to support emerging artists through her ceaseless work at KSW. Even if you can’t make it to the run of the show, I’m sure Sam would appreciate contributions, as she really pours herself into these exuberant performances.